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January 24, 2013

Democratic Campaign Aides Win State Government Promotions

After steering Democrats to victory last fall, two top campaign aides have found new jobs in state government.

Gov. Peter Shumlin's chief fundraiser, Erika Wolffing, was promoted last week to deputy commissioner of the Department of Labor.

Wolffing previously served as principal assistant to Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan until June 2012, when she left for Shumlin's reelection campaign. In her political role, she helped the governor raise $1.24 million to win a second term.

Wolffing earned $63,000 a year when she returned to the DOL two days after Election Day, according to Shumlin spokeswoman Sue Allen. Though Wolffing was promoted last week, her new salary is still being negotiated.

The deputy commissioner position has been vacant since Valeri Rickert left the Department of Labor in November 2011, Allen said. Rickert earned a salary of $83,000.

Vermont Democratic Party field director Ryan McLaren also recently returned to state government. McLaren worked as a temporary administrative assistant and then "private secretary" in the governor's office in 2011 before leaving to join the party in August 2011, Allen said. At the VDP, McLaren was tasked with identifying and turning out voters for Shumlin and the entire Democratic field.

McLaren has been rehired as special assistant to Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Rob Ide, drawing a salary of $58,000. Allen said McLaren will be taking on some of the duties of former deputy commissioner Howard Deal, who retired in December and whose position is not being filled. Deal made $90,000 in the role.

It's not uncommon for political appointees in state and federal offices to take leaves of absence to work for their bosses' political campaigns. Shumlin's former deputy chief of staff and legislative liaison, Alex MacLean, left her state job last summer to manage the governor's reelection campaign. She briefly returned to state government after the campaign before leaving for good earlier this month.

Phil Fiermonte, who works out of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) Burlington congressional office as outreach director, also managed Sanders' reelection campaign last fall. Likewise, Jon Copans, who serves as Rep. Peter Welch's (D-VT) deputy state director, managed Welch's reelection campaign.

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